If you’ve been here before you can skip these beginning paragraphs and jump to the warm-up. If it’s your first time, read on! Every Wednesday I will share a vocal tip or warm-up. After 17 years of teaching people how to sing I have so many things to share with you every week!
As a voice teacher I am frequently approached and asked for a vocal warm-up for use in a choir or as a soloist. I LOVE warm-ups and think it’s crucial to use them whenever you are going to sing. It’s an easy step to skip when you are practicing (because who doesn’t want to get to the fun stuff like songs?), but it can also be THE tool that takes you or your choir from average to AHHHMAZING! The trick is knowing which warm-ups you or your choir needs, when to use it and why it works.
That’s A LOT of variables! It’s also the main reason why I don’t like giving a warm-up on the fly. They are most effective when used under the correct circumstances. It’s really difficult for me to explain all these crucial elements in a short amount of time. Hence, the Vocal Wednesdays! Woo-hoo!
Great warm-ups are passed down from teachers to students or teacher to teacher. It’s a lot like story-telling in that way. Teaching voice is both an art and science. Having exercises is one thing, but knowing how to use them is a whole other matter. You will get the most out of your warm-ups if you understand what sorts of techniques or skills it teaches and then use them accordingly. My hope is that Vocal Wednesdays can help you not only find warm-ups you like, but that you learn what skill each warm-up can teach and then be able to use it at the appropriate time.
This week I am continuing the theme of singing intervals with a warm-up to sing a second. At first I was thinking I wouldn’t need to create a warm-up for a simple interval such as a second. However, one of the most important skills we can learn as singers is scales. I know, just what you wanted to hear, right? I have quite a few scales in the archives, but I don’t have nearly enough warm-ups with sustained tones. I know this sounds numbingly easy, but it’s actually more difficult to sustain a pitch than to sing a scale. In fact, when I suspect a student has some sort of damage to their voice, I have them sing a sustained pitch so I can hear the problem more clearly. Anyway, all my crazy meanderings brought about today’s warm-up that is both scale and practicing the art of sustaining a pitch. As an extra, I added a simple piano accompaniment. Enjoy!
IPA:[i e ɔ a, ɔ e i]
IPA is the International Phonetic Alphabet and is used by singers and teachers of singers to have a standardized guide to pronunciation. For future reference, I will always put IPA in brackets [ ]. I will also include a pronunciation guide of what it sounds like in non-word syllables.
Pronunciation: ee ay oh ah, oh ay ee
Note pattern: 1234, 321
Solfège: Do Re Mi Fa, Mi Re Do
***** Download Printable Warm-Up HERE
WHAT KEY OR NOTE SHOULD I START ON?
I would start in the key of C or D.
WHEN DO I USE THIS?
- To learn how to sing the interval of a second
- For ear training when your singer, choir or small group is struggling to sing a scale or second
- To practice the art and stamina in singing sustained notes
- To practice managing breath for consecutive sustained pitches
- For a choir: use as an exercise to unify vowels.
- Use as a tool to listen for technical or problematic issues in the voice
- This is a great warm-up to begin on a lip trill/buzz so your singer can figure out the breath before they have to manage the sustained singing
- Change the vowels to suit your singer(s) – I used vowels that gradually open as they go to the top. If you were working with men – you may want to change the vowels so they sing more rounded or closed vowels as they ascend.
- In the recording above you will hear some ‘sliding’ as I move between pitches. As a soloist this is completely acceptable and encouraged (In my opinion, it is the essence of legato singing for professional singers), but if you were working with a choir you would want to encourage a cleaner change of pitch.
- This is a great warm-up to practice dynamics, especially the messa di voce (<>)
- Listen for singers that are using a glottal attack at the beginning of the vowel and discourage it. You want a balanced onset. Not too breathy, not too hard or abrupt, juuust right-Goldilocks!
What vocal warm-ups are you using this week? Are you struggling with a technical problem? Write in the comments or message me on Facebook and I’d be happy to help you.